I’ve been looking for this volume for a while. Today, my dad surprised me with a copy. Let the Mitford madness
For those not familiar, the quick run down is this: An English Peer and his wife had seven children, and six daughters. They all grew up in a variety of English country houses, where they learned how to raise chickens and come up with ridiculous nicknames. Except for the Boy, who, being a boy, went to Eton. Nancy the Novelist became a Bright Young Thing and played with Noel Coward and Evelyn Waugh before saying au revoir to her gay ex-boyfriend and her unfaithful husband to go write about Voltaire’s love life in Paris. She was a socialist, but that didn’t stop her from writing about how vulgar it was to ask for a serviette. You might have heard of some of her novels, like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate; they were mostly about her family and the ridiculous nicknames. Diana married a Guinness (yes, like the beer) and was frightfully wealthy and famous, but decided she’d rather take up with the Sir Oswald Mosley, who was already married to the Viceroy of India’s daughter, because fascism was more fun. Diana spent most of the Second World War in prison, because being relatives of Churchill’s didn’t excuse your being more dangerous, cleverer, and prettier than your British Union of Fascists husband, it just got you a cell to share with Roderick Spode. Unity towered over the rest of her year’s debs (literally) when they were presented at Court, but took her finishing year in Berlin instead of Paris so that she could become bffs with Hitler, which she did with remarkable skill, but then he liked his other girlfriend Eva and went to war with Britain and Unity shot herself in the head with his gun. She survived, he paid her hospital bills and sent her home, and she became too mentally incapacitated to be tried and a Christian Scientist. Jessica had shared a bedroom with Unity, but made sure to carve hammers and sickles with a diamond ring next to the swastikas Unity put up until she saved up enough in her running away fund to elope with her cousin (and Churchill’s nephew) Romilly, with whom she went to Spain, where it did not so much rain as rain bullets. They joined the International Brigades, fought (for the Republic) in the Spanish Civil War, went to Canada and the US, and when Romilly died, Jessica married a civil rights lawyer, joined the Communist Party, and taught us all how much funeral providers were ripping us off. Little Deborah took the traditional route (someone had to) and contented herself to stay out of the spotlight by marrying the Duke of Devonshire’s younger son, who became the heir when his older brother made the commonly fatal mistake of getting into an airplane with Kick Kennedy. Thomas, the boy, liked fascism a little to well to fight in Europe and so went to fight in Burma, where he died. And Pamela mostly liked chickens a lot.
And then they all became Harry Potter characters.
(No, seriously. Sirius is Jessica in drag and Diana and Unity bear more than a passing resemblance to Narcissa and Bellatrix. And Rowling has flat out said that she named her daughter after Jessica, as JKR’s favorite book is the one I hold above, so if you’ve ever wondered which way she leans….)